Bryant prosecutors accuse defense of orchestrating media leaks

Friday, October 24th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case on Thursday accused defense attorneys of leaking sealed details to the media and asked a judge to consider punishing the defense team.

In a court filing, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said retired state District Judge William Jones learned of sealed information from defense attorney Hal Haddon and gave it to a reporter for the New York Daily News, which ran a story quoting Jones on Oct. 11.

The details _ that another man's semen was found in underwear worn by Bryant's accuser _ had not yet been brought up in Bryant's preliminary hearing, which ended Oct. 15. Bryant, 25, is accused of raping the employee at a mountain resort in June.

Hurlbert also cited the defense's repeated use of the accuser's name during the hearing and its questioning of the woman's sex history, which is normally kept secret under Colorado law.

``In the past two weeks, the defense has been on a campaign to get information in the public domain that has been specifically prohibited by the court,'' Hurlbert wrote.

Haddon denied the allegations in a letter to Hurlbert and asked him to withdraw the motion requesting an investigation into them. Haddon said he had not seen or spoken to Jones since last appearing in his court sometime in the 1980s.

In the letter that also was sent to media organizations, Haddon scolded Hurlbert for not asking him about the alleged leak before filing the motion.

He also threatened to ask for an investigation into alleged leaks from the district attorney's office.

Neither Jones nor Haddon returned calls for comment Thursday. Jones earlier told The Associated Press he had been misquoted and was basing his comments on what he heard was said in court.

The newspaper reporter stood behind the story in an interview with an investigator, Hurlbert said.

Hurlbert asked Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett to hold a hearing to determine whether Haddon violated a gag order on attorneys and others involved in the case.

Punishment for contempt of court could include a fine, but sanctions are left up to a judge, prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said.

Meanwhile, Bryant played Thursday night in his first game with the Los Angeles Lakers since being charged in July. Chants of ``Kobe! Kobe!'' erupted from the hometown fans when he handled the ball.

He was greeted by a thunderous roar when he was introduced before the pre-season exhibition game. Many fans wore jerseys with Bryant's No. 8 on them.

Bryant said before the game that he wasn't nervous.

``No, not at all,'' he said. ``It's the same old, same old.''

Also Thursday, a new judge was picked for the case now that it has moved from county court to district court. Chief Judge Terry Ruckriegle will preside at Bryant's next hearing Nov. 10, the state court administrator said.